Judo Simulacra Push Hands

A little while ago on Tim’s Discussion Board rodolfo asked, “Tai Chi and Jujitsu – Are there any Similarities between the two?” Tim’s response was to the point: “There are some technical similarities in the takedowns, and a number of the basic principles are the same in both arts.

Although I wasn’t aware of the above post when I started this blog entry, it is important to show there there is far more here than we thought at first.

Osoto Gari

Deashi Harai (Deashi Barai)

The first primary goal, as I explained on R.M-A, would be to examine the places in push hands where it was most natural to execute a judo throw. The second primary goal would be to recognize the attempt of a judo throw and attempt to thwart it via the push hands technique. The above clips demonstrate that this is not only possible, but that many judo throws are already a part of the tai chi repitoire.

The response so far has been phenomenal. With this “video evidence”, people started to realize the connection went beyond just throws and acknowledged that it included aspects of gripfighting and kuzushi.

Dan Windsor went so far as to start his own thread about it. Here is his OP:

OK, this is against my better judgement*, but I’m more interested in peoples’ answers to the root question. So renli wants to have a Judoka school him in some throws so he can then go and try to work on defending them with tie chee. I’m thinking he’d only need to learn 4 throws:
1. Seoi-nage
2. De-ashi-berai
3. O-soto-gari
4. Kata-guruma

to conceptually cover what he wants. Y’all thoughts?

*note: Dan is commenting on the fact that he usually just says i’m full of crap <g> some judoka never learn..

Even David Burkhead, the ringleader of the Physics division, chimed in by suggesting that Hane Goshi might make it to the list, along with a pick up throw (he suggested Suki Nage or Morote Gari) and a sacrifice throw (he suggested yoko otoshi).

Well, we can probably scratch pickups from the list 😉 but allow me to comment David L. Burkhead’s response to my questions (below), posted to r.m-a:

There are a number of ways Judo throws can be divided. For example, they can be divided by the primary kind of action that is involved (whether mostly hand action, or hip action, or leg action, etc makes the throw “happen”). These aren’t hard and fast divisions since sometimes a throw can fall near the boundary between two and be rather hard to classify. Likewise different variations of the same throw can functionally fall into different categories. “Tai Otoshi” is classically a hand throw. The right leg is stuck out for balance and to prevent uke from stepping around to regain balance. However, a modern form of Tai Otoshi comes in a lot closer, and will “pop” the leg back at the point of decision, using the leg to actively drive uke’s weight bearing leg back. This makes it function more as a “leg” throw.

I can’t speak to why Dan chose his four*, but I added the ones I did based on what it takes to defend against them. For example, Harai Goshi is a hip throw. Thrown right handed, it involves pulling your opponent in tight and turning to the left. Your right hip forms a fulcrum and lifts while your right leg sweeps back both preventing uke from stepping around and sweeping his legs out from under him. If you can internalize an ability to defend against Harai goshi, you are in good shape to defend against other hip throws: o goshi and uki goshi (no leg sweep, one more or less over the hip and the other more or less around it), tsurikomi goshi (tori comes in extra low and drives the right arm upward for lift–a good throw for shorter tori), koshi guruma, etc.

*note: Dan’s comment was “I was more going on directions of attack, but same concept. I like your approach better.”

Many other people have chimed in with tons of useful information. “Antipodean Lower Man” posted these videos of judo “push hands” (fascinating stuff):

Kirk Lawson suggested “backheel.. both types”.

Anyways, I am posting this because I need your help to organize this. I need ideas and information. In return I will share my findings and the result of this training. It will probably take six months to a year to work through all the material and train the throws. So here goes:

1. What Judo throws are you aware of which are present in tai chi? Specifically Chen style. We can say that one of the first applications in chen style is similar to deashi harai, for example. Does “fan through the back” contain Uki Goshi (or am I seeing it wrong?)

Part two, what are the chinese names for these throws? Some applications specific to push hands are named, for example ghost pushes a millstone. What are the push hand application names which are related to judo throws in Chinese, is there a list or book anywhere of generic push hands techniques, similar to something like this list of judo throws?

2. Which Judo throws do you feel would not be applicable to push hands, at all? I suspect many sacrifice throws would fit this list. Yoko Guruma springs to mind. I don’t see that being a viable push hands technique 😉

(Now what’s interesting to me is, taking yoko guruma as an example, it seems to my under-informed brain to look like a counter to something like Uki Goshi. What would the push hands counter be to your generic hip throw (hane goshi) for example? Speculation time).

3. How to solve the problem of training to counter sacrifice throws and pickups in push hands.. is it even necessary? (this is really a question how you would deal with someone breaking tradition, for example, suddenly shoving your chest). Is it worthwhile to train to counter such things?

4. The inevitable question: Do you as a taiji and/or judo practitioner think that this is a worthwhile thing to do as a whole, and why.

Thank you for any comments or advice.


6 Responses

  1. I’d say you’re pretty close to right on. we train judo throws from a type of motion that we call the ‘judo dance’ with the partners clinched together and moving in synch – one steps his right foot back and forth and the other steps his left foot back and forth. From this type of motion the techniques show up.

    This judo dance is not really much different from what I understand the basic taichi push hands exercise to be. There is a basic pattern of motion in push hands, one guy pushes and the other wards it off then the roles reverse and this makes a flowing sort of horizontal circle from which techniques and variations can be explored.

    There’s no reason i can see why you cant explore judo or aikido techniques form this basic ‘taichi dance’ motion pattern. In fact, i see no reason that you couldn’t get every technique in the judo and aiki syllabi – other than you might want to avoid sacrifices because they take the good guy off his feet nd that _seems_ to be against the basic idea of taichi.

  2. Thanks Patrick – I think it would only be fair to quote your recent blog entry, “..A lot of people still practice this tanto randori, and that’s okay. Fugakukai, under the direction of Karl Geis, continued looking at different ways to do this randori and finally came up with a system of open-hand randori very similar to the push-hands practice and competitions you can see Tai Chi practitioners doing.” – http://mokurendojo.blogspot.com/2007/08/nathan-at-tda-posed-question-other-day.html

    Fascinating stuff. Thank you very much.

  3. All good pure martial arts are the same. Let the opponent’s attack move you and you use the attacker’s momentum to control their balance. A perfect throw should not require any effort from the defender. All “true” Judo, Aikido and Taichi work on the same principle. Actually, a good push-hand to send the other fly off the ground is the same principle of Tomae-nage. It is just Taichi could condition one’s body to be so flexible that he could do the throw without have one’s bum sitting on the floor. All throws are sacrifice throws one way or other if done without strength (I mean zero). It is just a matter of angles and fulcrum.

    Competition destroys the true essence of martial art and turns it into a game (nevertheless, a very entertaining game which I like very much myself) – but the true goal of martial art is to learn to understand the meaning of non resistance which could enhance one’s life experience in many ways other than self defense or winning a match. MA really helps one to understand the essences of Buddhism and Taoism which are to show people that there is more to life than what we could sense with our eyes.

  4. Wow! that is a great perspective on sacrifices. I’ll enjoy working through that one in my mind for a good while.

    I usually think of sacrifices as last-ditch things that the thrower does to save himself when being run over and knocked off his feet by the attacker, but I can definitely see how you could describe virtually all of aikido that way – being run over and knocked out of your position (but still remaining standing). Similar to the point I was making in a recent post: http://mokurendojo.blogspot.com/2007/08/unbendable-arm.html

  5. Are you serious? I was just speculating after having watched a few videos on judoinfo.com. Heh. Anyways… “good”, that validated my speculation. I didn’t think this would be news to a high level judoka. I expected to be corrected over it.

  6. Ha, high-ranked i’m not. i’m 3rd dan in judo, which in the big picture is still a student rank. The folks higher than me are so much more skilled than I am that it makes me think there must be some sort of exponential skill increase instead of anything approaching linear. in fact, i’ve rarely ever been called a very good third dan. i do practice, though, and i think about it a lot…

    anyway, i suspect what is happening here is we all get sorta stuck in our own ways of thinking about things. i put sacrifices into my own set of boxes and understood them a certain way. Peter Chow above reminded me that it might be looked at differently. that’s why i do the blogging thing anyway, to give my perspective some air and get some feedback


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